I Want To Tell You About Bailey

Bailey was born in 2002 during the month of November in Wisconsin. I was living in St. Louis at the time, but I was willing to drive to him because the breeder was insane (in the way that makes you know you’re going to get a well loved puppy). Prior to receiving her blessing, I had to speak with her for hours on the phone. I also had to submit a full report of everything I was going to do and all the resources that were available to me to take care of any dog she might sell me. I learned all about the breeding process, the lineage of her dogs, showing dogs, and all other nature of esoterica as it applies to raising champion dogs. Thing is, I didn’t want a champion, I wanted a friend, and a friend is what I got. A friend that would be with me for the next ten years.

I had read up on how one should pick a puppy from a litter. Tons of tips and tricks, and it turned out that none of them mattered. I walked into the breeder’s house and she showed me down to her basement, where the new puppies were playing in a pen. As soon as I walked in, one of them bounded over to me and started pawing at my leg so that I would pick him up. I remember saying “Hi there.” and knowing that he had just claimed a piece of my heart.

On the drive home from Wisconsin, Bailey was most comfortable sleeping on my lap. I tried putting him in the back seat, but he threw up. As I sat there on the side of the road scooping up his partially digested breakfast with my bare hands I remember thinking “This is it. I’m ready for this.”

There are moments I remember from his being a puppy. Mostly happy, but some sad. A funny thing is that he had a super sensitive stomach and he would produce projectile Pollack-esque shit designs all over the walls of my apartment if he had anything other than boiled chicken breasts with white rice and pureed sweet potatoes. I figured this out by trial and error. Obviously. Until I hit upon the magic combo, he needed to wear diapers, which I made from trash bags and paper towels.

Aside from his hilarious gastrointestinal problems, he was a wonderful and happy pooch. He had all the love and toys a pup could want.

One day, he and I were watching Animal Planet. There was a show where someone had to put their dog down. I remember holding him so tightly. I couldn’t bear the thought of losing him. He was so young and so loving and so lovable. Even the thought of losing him in the future was too much to bear. That tender moment aside, most of our time was spent playing at the dog park with his best friend, a pit bull, and walking to his girlfriend’s house, a doberman.

Eventually I moved with him to a house so he would have more room. It was there that he would eventually gain a beagle and two kittens (second kitten not pictured) as playmates. Even though he was the biggest by far, he was the absolute lowest in the pecking order. He would dutifully get out of the way if the kittens or the beagle wanted to sit somewhere. He would then walk over to me and put his head on my lap and sigh.

He wasn’t always a pushover. Once another dog growled at my beagle. Bailey went after that dog so hard and so fast that it took my 200lb Marine friend just to pull him off the other dog. Another time, Bailey chased off someone who was trying to break into our house. Beagle howled. That earned them cake.

Over the years, he was just a super-cool dog. He liked to crash on the bed and hang out with all my friends. He loved to play fetch and also dress up. Once I tried to leave him in a crate with a pillow. He didn’t like that as much. He loved to sleep in bed with me. His favorite thing was to be under the covers with his head on the pillow. He liked to face away from me and for me to hug him. He liked being little spoon.

When Eva was born, he became a different dog. He spent his entire day watching her and looking out for her. On walks, he’d run from one side of the stroller to the other. Back and forth, back and forth, checking on her. When she was learning to stand, he was always nearby to support her. And when she started to walk, he’d carefully let her walk him. At night, he would sleep outside her door. His days of being little spoon over.

Almost.

One day, around his 9th birthday, his back paws started to drag behind him while he was walking. Before long, he was tripping and it wasn’t long after that he stopped being able to run. Something was wrong, but I wouldn’t figure out what for many more months.

One can purchase health insurance for a dog, but I never did. That meant when he needed spinal taps and MRIs, I paid for them all out of pocket. I never thought twice, but in the end I spent tens of thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours to discover that he had an untreatable infection in his spine. He was probably born with it and for years it sat dormant, but now it was ravaging his spinal cord. Within months, he would need a doggie wheelchair and since he wasn’t strong enough to use it, I would have to carry his back half as he made his way out to the yard to do his business. We didn’t play anymore, he just slept and occasionally ate.

There are no words to describe what it’s like to watch your best friend die. To stand by helplessly as his body deteriorates. Eventually it was time to let him go. I spent the night with him, sleeping on the cold tile floor next to his dog bed. I pulled him close and slept with my arm over his frail body.

This was the last time he would be my little spoon. It was his 10th birthday.

The next day, a woman came with a toolbox and a stretcher. 
 He licked my face and then he looked up into my eyes as he died.

Bailey protected me and my loved ones and he inspired several of my friends to get Boxers. He paid me his life in happiness, and in the end, he was my best good friend. I loved him and I still do. I miss him every single day. Sometimes it almost hurts too much to think about him, but I still do.

He deserves for me to remember him and so do I.


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